Chinese New Year (CNY) is upon us.
You can tell this because of how the city transforms itself. Smoothly transitioning from (sometimes crazy) Christmas decorations to bright reds and glimmering golds. Showcasing the creature that we are in the “Year” of.
The creature this year has brought much consternation and discussion among the Non-Chinese.
Is it the Year of The Goat? The Year of The Ram? The Year of The Sheep? The answer is “Yes”
It depends who you ask, where you look, what page from Google you click on. From what I can tell, this is the year of a “horned” thing…but NOT Ox. In OUR house, this is the “Year of Kari” She’s been waiting…she is waiting for her birth-year’s place on the window sill with the other gold figurines we have collected. (each figurine represents a year in Hong Kong for us…if only I had done this with my LINKS bracelet)
CNY brings HOARDES and I mean HOARDES of people to Hong Kong. The celebration is about one month long. EVERYONE in China has this time (or part of it) off. Many travel back to their homes and villages, and with China being HUGE…this can take awhile.
However, now that it is very common for Chinese to travel…Hong Kong is a pretty popular destination.
This is not really new…Chinese Tourism to Hong Kong has been on the upswing for years. This has caused much debate, distaste, distress to those who live and work here. See…Hong Kong is pretty packed as it is…add tons more people…and well, our orderly life gets interrupted.
I’m going to list some of those interruptions…and when I do…because I’ve been thinking about this…we all pretty much seem like a whiny bunch of spoiled brats…and we are. We want these people gone from “our” city (seriously…OUR city?). NOW…also let it be said that I am writing from personal experience and thoughts…
We have to wait longer for trains. The transport system here is one of the best in the world. It is clean. somewhat orderly (except when you can’t get off the train b/c people are jamming on – which is a year long event…not tied to these two weeks) efficient, reliable, timely. Boo Hoo…we have to wait 3 min to the next train? WAHHHHHHH
We have to be more vigilant of our handbags and safety: - With crowds brings opportunists. Tourists are known targets…and because it is drilled into us that Hong Kong is SO safe…we ourselves might get a bit lax in taking care of our stuff. Thefts will soar these next few weeks…and I doubt seriously it is Mainlanders doing the thieving… I get a bit careless…and after a couple of reports these last few weeks, I am watching…and zipping my bags…and putting my wallet in the “middle” of the bag…not on top… Shouldn’t we just be smarter anyway?
We have to wait longer in line at Starbucks. Ok…I will admit it…I was a tad annoyed this morning when the family of six was ordering their pastries and I really could not make my away around them to the counter. Since this was BC (before coffee) I had my moment. Then I calmed. (This is what got me thinking about this subject). I got my coffee…moved myself away from what I was SURE would be unruly children (they weren’t).
We have to Dodge Duck Dip Dive and Dodge as we walk down the street: As a rule, Hong Kongers don’t walk well…at all. It is every man/woman for themselves. Heads down, watching a video, playing IPhone Mahjong, serpentining their way through life. Some days we are in the mood to move…some days we are not. These next couple of weeks we tend to “not” be in the mood, especially with the added traffic. Take your eyes off of your own phone…you will be happier for it.
Waiting in line as “they” check out at the stores: Once again, it comes down to the “waiting” We are all in such a G/D hurry…all the time…we can not fathom having people in front of us. NOW…what tends to get us all crazy is the queue jumping…and I’m with you on that…THAT one (also a year long event) gets me nuts at this time of year. That one I don’t tolerate…
WHAT COULD THEY BE BUYING?
And THERE it is. This is what grabbed me today…really got me and I’m hoping that it will carry me through the next two weeks.
Hong Kongers tend to call these tourists Locusts. I’ve read it, I’ve seen it depicted in a child’s art show (locusts sitting on houses in the New Territories – drawn by a 15 year old boy); I’ve heard fellow ExPats say it.
Why do they do it? WHY are they HERE buying EVERYTHING. Why are they lining up on Canton Road to get into LV, Hermes, Coach? Why has baby formula been limited to two tins per traveler?
BECAUSE THEY LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE:
They cannot trust the purity of their food.
They cannot trust the purity of their beauty products.
They cannot trust the authenticity of their glamour goods .
They cannot (do not) trust their government to handle the above.
Wow…Not sure anyone is still here…reading b/c that was a long time to get to this point : We live a charmed life…really charmed. The freedoms afforded us are endless…fought for by brave men and women.
MOST of the time…we don’t give the first three things a thought…I mean…bad things happen, but tainted food is jumped on pretty quickly…and as to the governments… Right now I’m not a fan of either side of the aisle in the US Government…but…I’d much rather THEM be my government than the one those visiting Hong Kong over the next couple of weeks have to endure. I’m sure most of my ExPat friends from where ever they are will say the same thing.
Next time you see the term “locust” or even want to use it…think about the above? They are just moving through their lives, seeing something new. Taking advantage of Hong Kong’s plusses. These people also spend a TON of money here…I mean…that has GOT to be good right?
SO…I’m going to try to stay calm…travel on slightly off peak times…and maybe try to catch the eye of someone I’m passing…smile…then jump out of the way as they veer into me.